Hiking boots are the ultimate purchase for anyone who regularly spends a lot of time walking outdoors, whether that’s meandering through sun-drenched forests on a lazy Sunday, or hitting your nearest mountain trail for a big adventure before heading back to your tent for the night.
This do-it-all rugged boot is the ultimate type of footwear for all-weather exploring wherever you are in the world, and there are some fantastic hiking boots around now from world-leading brands including Salomon, Merrell, AKU, Keen and La Sportiva.
To enjoy a day (or longer) hiking without running the risk of blisters, raw skin on your heels or crushed toes, it’s important to buy the best hiking boots that you can afford – and ones that match the type of hiking or walking you’ll mostly be doing on the regular. It goes without saying that they will need to fit you properly, too.
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While we love a tech-laden technical hiking boot for certain scenarios, you might not need that many bells and whistles if you just want some waterproof walking boots to keep your feet dry and protected when walking the dog on country trails. In that case, one of the more budget friendly hikers will see you right. This will save you cash and a whole heap of research time.
There are also different types of hiking boots for different terrains, and choosing the right pair for challenging conditions can boost your enjoyment of the outdoors and bolster your confidence on the trail. That's why we've considered a range of styles, features and tech when rounding up our picks for the best hiking boots.
Unsure what type of footwear you need for the type of walking you do regularly? We have answers in our walking boots vs walking shoes guide.
Best hiking boots: our expert pick
- Choosing the best hiking boots for every condition is pretty much impossible due to the sheer range of options to choose from, and depending upon how niche you want to get when drilling down into the sub-genres of hiking boots. It's the same story with waterproof jackets. However, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is a tried-and-tested hiking boot capable of seeing you through a range of hiking, backpacking and trekking scenarios. It really is a do-all outdoors boot.
- Salomon's hiking boot is purpose built for boosting stability and comfort on longer hikes and backpacking excursions, and has a raft of features and tech to ensure you can go for longer without experiencing discomfort. The Quest 4D 3 GTX is also waterproof and breathable, so you'll be fine if the heavens open.
Why do you need specific boots for hiking?
Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek.
Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.
Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock.
That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use.
This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.
What are the most popular hiking boot technologies?
Outdoor tech, which covers everything from head torches and action cameras to camping stoves and backpacking tents, has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:
- Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
- Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
- NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
- Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
- CleanSport NXT (odour control)
Choosing the best hiking boots for you
In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks.
It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit.
A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.
The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock.
Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort.
Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day offroad use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.
Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.
Is the type of hiking boot material important?
Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box.
Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.
In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.
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The best hiking boots you can buy right now
1. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX
Show the mountains who’s boss with these best hiking boots for all terrains
Reasons to buy
Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Gore-Tex) will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine.
They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact.
Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach.
SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. Wear your Quest 4D 3 GTX’s with a pair of proper hiking socks and get out on the trail. They’ll have your back each step of the way.
Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.
2. Adidas Men’s Terrex Free Hiker Gore-Tex
The best hiking boots for causal wanders, from city to trail
Reasons to buy
The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX have shaken up the walking boot market, creating a whole new category of ultra-lightweight trainer-hiking-boots. The big upgrade here is the addition of a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, which is essential for the damper days of autumn and winter.
Elsewhere, there are new olive/Khaki colourways, but the rest is the same excellent Terrex of last year. Think an enormously potent Boost midsole to put a real spring in your step, and a Primeknit upper for a super-snug, comfy fit but with big breathability.
The sole is a robustly lugged Continental Rubber number, which grips well in most conditions. Overall, this is an ideal lightweight hiking boot that will easily handle longer days out if you fancy moving away from the well-worn streets of the city and onto some more offroad routes.
You can buy the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker direct from the official Adidas website.
3. Merrell Men’s Zion Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
New waterproof hiking boots for men to help you battle through autumn/winter
Reasons to buy
Merrell’s super-comfy new hiking boots, also available for women, are well cushioned and dish out big grip to keep you upright on slippery terrain. Lightweight yet tough, they’re perfect for those of you who want a pair of easy to wear hikers that can be worn to the pub after a day on the trail.
Merrell has designed them with a wipe-clean ballistic mesh and full-grain leather upper, with a rubber toe cap and a bellow tongue protecting your toes and feet from debris on the trail.
Gore-Tex is on board for waterproofing, and a Vibram Megagrip sole with 5mm lugs boosts traction each step of the way. The Zion Mids are breathable too, ensuring you don’t end up standing in a pool of sweat after an intense hike.
4. Mammut Kento High GTX Men’s Hiking Boots
Crampon-compatible hiking boots for mountain adventures
Reasons to buy
The Mammut Kento High GTX is all things to all people; a highly versatile hiking boot that’s not only lightweight, but also surprisingly practical as an all-rounder.
There’s a bit of everything in the Kento High GTX. These walking boots, available for men and women, are hardy enough to accomodate strap-on crampons, but designed first and foremost to deliver hiking and walking comfort. This is aided by a Michelin Alpine Lite 3970 sole.
The Nubuck and softshell outer soak up sharp-rock punishment without falling apart, and the robust rand is there to fend off the worst those mountains can throw at your feet. Weighing in at a lightweight 620g, this is one of the best hiking boot options for alpine exercusions, and an excellent option for pretty much any mountain adventure.
5. Keen Venture Mid WP
Big comfort straight out of the box
Reasons to buy
The Keen Venture Mid is a very robust yet comfortable hiking boot, ready for use straight out of the box and ideal for lower-level rambles and casual day hikes. Much of the tech here is aimed firmly at boosting your walking comfort, and there’s plenty of it too.
Most notably, the heel-capture system is designed to lock your foot back into the boot, preventing heel lift. This minimises chafing and provides a secure sensation around the foot. That security is augmented with a stability shank, supportive lacing system and 4mm deep lugs on the outsole. Those bad boys will grip mud, scree and shale.
Final touches include Keen’s own-brand waterproof membrane paired with a breathable mesh upper, embedded odour control based on probiotic technology, and PFC-free DWR. overall, it’s a strong performer for autumn adventures around the UK.
6. Hoka One One Sky Kaha
The best hiking boots for backpacking trips where comfort is paramount
Reasons to buy
Deceptively lightweight, the Hoka One One Sky Kaha is an astonishingly soft and comfortable hiking boot, but also delivers on support and strength too. This might well have something to do with the name (the Māori word for strength and support), but definitely does have something to do with the spec-list.
There’s the surprising inclusion of a super-robust full grain, waterproof leather upper, a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with massive 5mm multi-directional lugs, and EVA/Rangi foam midsole, tasked with delivering all that bounce. Finally a full eVent waterproof bootie should keep the wet outside where it belongs – ideal for the damp days ahead.
7. AKU Trekker Lite III GTX
These handsome hiking boots will give rocks a good kicking
Reasons to buy
AKU is often underestimated as a brand, and the Trekker Lite III is an impressive underdog, boasting a Rolls-Royce build quality and yet impressively low weight. These are hiking boots in the traditional sense, and are given huge rigidity with a 6-4mm Nylon lasting board.
That rigidity is all on your side though, with a sculpted rocker sole that rolls with the stride, and an enormously breathable upper of suede, air8000 and welded PU film that helps to keep weight down to an impressive 570g a boot.
The outsole is no less robust, and with a deep tread and the magic grippiness of Vibram Curcuma these should stay right-side-up whatever the conditions. A worthy addition to our best hiking boots guide.
8. The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid
These men’s hiking boots take their lead from trail running shoes
Reasons to buy
The North Face Ultra Fastpack III deliver fast and light protection for your feet in all areas. From a full Gore-Tex membrane to the host of protective TPU elements throughout the boot, the Vibram Megagrip outsole to the ESS Snake Plate forefoot protector lifted from TNF’s trail running line, these are grown-up solutions to outdoor challenges.
The Ultra Fastpack’s low profile ankle support and trail-derived features all point to tackling trails and hills at a good pace, while the dual-density FastFoam midsole will make sure you last the distance by boosting responsiveness and comfort in the process.
From quick weekend blasts in the Lakes to hut-walking in the Alps, this best hiking boots contender will have you putting your best foot forward, time and time again.
9. Teva Arrowood Riva Mid
These hiking boots might look retro but the tech is anything but
Reasons to buy
An updated take on the classic walking boot, the Teva Arrowood is a surprise entrant here, and boasting a highly robust full-grain leather upper and Vibram soles, this is the 4x4 of walking boots.
Less visible is the eVent membrane inside the upper, a highly breathable but waterproof layer that’ll keep water out but allow sweat out, and nylon shanks to stabilise your feet on rough ground and add stiffness on more challenging terrain. EVA midsoles and polyurethane footbeds round out the package.
10. Danner Arctic 600
A Vibram Nisqaully arctic grip keeps you upright on ice
Reasons to buy
Winter boots may be popping up like mushrooms now, but the gorgeous Danner Arctic’s are a little bit special. A suede upper really looks the part, and the traditional lacing is augmented with a side zip, enabling you to don your boots in a jiffy.
The spec is what you’d expect from a high-end pair of hiking boots, including 200g PrimaLoft insulation, a waterproof membrane and DWR coating. They also have one cunning trick up their sleeve (or rather, sock): Vibram Nisqaully Arctic Grip. This Vibram sole compound grips even sheet ice, so there’ll be no more sliding around, gripping onto the nearest bit of fence, on frosty mornings for you.
You can buy the Danner Arctic 600 direct from Danner’s website.
11. La Sportiva Stream GTX
Fast and light hikers sporting Gore-Tex Surround breathable tech
Reasons to buy
A fast and light hiking boot for those sun-soaked European breaks, the La Sportiva Stream GTX won’t weigh you down. Designed to be highly breathable with an abrasion-resistant mesh outer, yet waterproof with a Gore-Tex inner, the Stream GTX is for built for hiking fast and light in good conditions.
That fast and light ethos is taken to great lengths, with La Sportiva even incorporating aeration channels (Gore-Tex Surround tech) into the midsole to augment the breathable upper. This hiking boot is all about keeping your feet comfortable when you're powering along the trail.
There’s a Vibram sole for grip, and stability control systems baked in, so the total package is more than capable of dealing with rough stuff in a hurry.
12. Lowa Renegade Mid Hiking Boot
Leather boots built for racking up the miles, but break them in first
Reasons to buy
If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge.
The Renegade GTX is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in
Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, Lowa's hiking boots are a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.
13. TOG24 Whernside Waterproof Boots
Best for updated old-school hiking boot style
Reasons to buy
Intended as an upgrade on the classic walking and hiking boot, the TOG24 Whernside is all business on the trail. This isn’t a hugely technical boot, but it's supportive and very comfortable.
A suede and leather upper will break in quickly and mould to your foot shape (just like the good old days), while a built-in waterproof membrane keeps damp at bay.
A wicking lining is there to help internal dampness levels, with an EVA heel cup taking care of stability as well as boosting comfort. Finally, a Vibram outsole with a deep-cut traditional tread will handle the rough stuff along with the smooth.
For a sub-£100 price point there are always compromises, but here you’re getting a very solid package for the cash - ideal for light summer/autumn hikes across the moors and downs. For steeper, more technical terrain you’ll be wanting a more technical beast, though.
14. Tecnica Forge
The best hiking boots for blister-free walking
Reasons to buy
The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix. In short, it's a solid enough three-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that's thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags.
The result of all that effort is well worth it, with these hiking boots being moulded precisely to your feet. With a deeper heel pocket than normal, there's little heel lift either.
A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking is here - and very welcome it is too.
The final word:
As with all types of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX takes our best hiking boots crown because they offer a superb fit, with zero break-in time, and can be worn on everything from day hikes to big backpacking excursions.
The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX is a close second because they are the easiest to unbox, put on and simply get out there with the minimum fuss, all while delivering maximum fun.
If you’re looking for something more technical, the Mammut Kento High GTX hiking boot is mountain ready and always up for a challenge.
If you're looking for something not quite as extreme as a hiking boot, check out T3's selection of the best walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much support.
About the author...
Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking and diving.
Damian Hall is an outdoors journalist, ultrarunner and walking expert who has authored books on the subject.